Or Perhaps You’re Just Acting Like a Jerk

Jesus indeed said, “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.” [1] Jesus predicted it and it does happen. However, when a Christian finds themselves hated, excluded, reviled, and defamed, it’s always a good idea for them to first do some self-examination and make sure they’re not acting like a jerk. I can confirm this from personal experience.

[1] Luke 6:22-23 (NRSV)

Funeral Services for Bill Sexton

William “Bill” A. Sexton passed away on Monday. Visitation will be on Thursday, May 30, 2019, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. in the narthex/lobby. A Service of Death and Resurrection will be held in the sanctuary on Friday, May 31, at 10:00 a.m. with a graveside service following at Keystone Cemetery near Manchester.

Praying for the President

1 Timothy 2:1-2 reads “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity” (NRSV). Because of these verses, we sometimes pray for the leaders of our government in the opening prayer on Sunday morning.

You may have seen a call by Franklin Graham for Christians to pray for Donald J. Trump this Sunday. That isn’t going to happen at First UMC. For starters, we usually pray for elected officials by position and not by name in order to be non-partisan. Also, if you think we should pray for Trump by name at the behest of Franklin Graham, I would ask you to consider how you would feel if the popular vote had carried the day, Hillary Clinton was president, and Jessie Jackson was asking us to pray for her.

In my own personal prayers, I pray for President Trump on a regular basis, just as I prayed for President Obama, President Bush, and President Clinton. As far as corporate prayer as a gathered congregation, I think our present policy is best.

Guest Preaching Schedule

This information made it into the bulletin, but not the blog. My apologies. Here’s a list our guest preachers in June. (I’ll be preaching on June 23.)

  • June 2 — Susan Mercer of Wesley KU (John and Jenny will be present and will lead the worship service)
  • June 9 — Amanda Cormack
  • June 16 — Amanda Cormack
  • June 30 — Mark Queen

All Saints/Memorial Sunday

We’re observing All Saints/Memorial Sunday tomorrow. We’ll be honoring the following members who passed away since the last time we observed All Saints Day. Here’s the list. Please let us know if we’ve missed anyone.

  • Orban Haas, June 2, 2018
  • Phyllis Frederich, June 7, 2018
  • Ralph Hilton, September 28, 2018
  • Jerry Sleichter, October 24, 2018
  • Charles “Bud” Bankes, November 26, 2018
  • Kenneth Brown, December 3, 2018
  • Gary Coleman, December 23, 2018
  • Rose Marie Rogers, January 8, 2019
  • Phyllis Newell, January 21, 2019
  • Wendell Gugler, February 11, 2019
  • Paula Peterson, February 21, 2019
  • Mary Ruth Dieter, April 14, 2019
  • Robert Bottorff, May 6, 2019


Just passing on a few things we’ve received via email:

From Neighbor to Neighbor: Sandbags are available at NE Second Street, for pick-up by residents in the 67410 zip code.  Need help transporting and placing sandbags? Call 785-200-6750. Willing to help deliver/place sandbags? Call 785-200-6750

From Hollie Tapley, Disaster Response Coordinator for the Great Plains Conference of the UMC, we’ve heard that they are looking for 50 volunteers to help with sandbagging in Chapman. I’ll follow up with more details when I get them.

The Triumph of Love

John Wesley: Optimist of Grace, by Henry H. Knight, is one of the best summaries of John Wesley’s theology that I have ever read (and it is, by far, the shortest). Here are a few excerpts:

Wesley’s vision of a new creation filled with the love of God is a fitting outcome of his theology. From 1725 on he was committed to holiness of heart and life as the content and goal of salvation; now, near the end of his life, he extended renewal in love from the hearts of humans to the entirety of creation. [Which means that all of creation will be redeemed/saved.] This was one of the last of the many insights Wesley gained throughout his life and ministry.

His fundamental insight, that governed all the rest, was that salvation is all about our renewal in love, our being restored to the image of God. Without this holiness of heart and life we are neither truly happy nor truly Christian. [1]

… Commenting on 1 John 4:19 (“We love him, because he first loved us”) Wesley wrote, “This is the sum of all religion, the genuine model of Christianity. None can say more: why should any one say less . . .”332 Wesley believed that this love of God will triumph in the end, and it is this same love that seeks to triumph even now, in every human heart. [2]

I’ve been thinking about restarting The Breakfast Club with this book. Let me know if you’re interested.

[1] Henry H. Knight III, John Wesley: Optimist of Grace (Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2018), 141.
2] Ibid., 145

A God So Smitten

Today, I’m re-upping a quote from Kenda Creasy Dean. I don’t know about you, but I need the reminder.

“The Christian God-story emphasizes a God so smitten with creation that God chooses to enter creation with us, and stops at nothing—not even death—to win us back.” [1]

And according to scriptures like Romans 8.18-23, when God gets us back, all of creation will come with us. But what I like best about this statement is the use of the word smitten. I had never heard that word used to describe God’s love for us before. God’s love for us is so powerful, so profound, so vast and so everlasting that we’re always in danger of underestimating or understating it. I’m going to add smitten to the repository of words I use to describe the love that God has for us.

[1] Kenda Creasy. Dean, Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church (New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).

Voices: Augustine of Hippo on Riches

Below is the quote from the great theologian Augustine of Hippo. I find that I need to pray the closing prayer on a regular basis.

“Riches … are gained with toil and kept with fear. They are enjoyed with danger and lost with grief. It is hard to be saved if we have them; and impossible if we love them; and scarcely can we have them but we shall love them inordinately. Teach us, O Lord, this difficult lesson: to manage conscientiously the goods we possess.” — Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 133

I’ll simply say Amen.

That Was On Me

Last Sunday, the old computer that we used for running the worship slides decided it didn’t want to work properly anymore. Since we typically have middle school or high school students (who use iPads for school) running the slides we decided to save money and replace the old computer with an iPad.

I plugged the new iPad in and had everything all set up, but I didn’t relay all the relevant information to the person running slides and sound. So the small snag we encountered during this afternoon’s worship service was my fault. Things have been relabeled to ensure that the next time something goes wrong, it will be something else entirely.

Voices: Not Left to Our Own Devices

I read this long ago, but I just came across it again this week:

The cross is not a sign of the church’s quiet, suffering submission to the powers-that-be, but rather the church’s revolutionary participation in the victory of Christ over those powers. The cross is not a symbol for general human suffering and oppression. Rather, the cross is a sign of what happens when one takes God’s account of reality more seriously than Caesar’s. The cross stands as God’s (and our) eternal no to the powers of death, as well as God’s eternal yes to humanity, God’s remarkable determination not to leave us to our own devices. — Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon [1]

Whether I’m looking at the general human condition, or simply my own life, I’m thankful that we have a God who does not leave us to our own devices.

[1] Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon, Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony, expanded ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2014), 47.